US Embassy denies report claiming US involvement in HDP’s election strategy
AFP PhotoIn strong words, the U.S. Embassy in Turkey has strictly ruled out a newspaper report which claimed that election campaign strategy of the Kurdish problem-focused opposition party was determined at a meeting at the U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul.
The British Embassy, meanwhile, denied a claim by a columnist in Star newspaper that the British state had closed down a newspaper at the time.
“Star newspaper’s claim today (Oct. 30, 2015) that the HDP’s [the Peoples’ Democratic Party] election campaign strategy was determined at a meeting at the U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul is false. The paper’s insinuation that the United States is conspiring against the Turkish government or to influence the outcome of elections in Turkey is also an outright lie,” said a written statement released by the U.S. Embassy in Ankara on Oct. 30.
“To be clear: there is no coordination between the United States government and any political party in Turkey. We work with any government formed by representatives democratically elected by the Turkish people. Star claims in its bogus article that its rival media organizations were part of their imagined plot.
Sadly, both the U.S. Mission in Turkey and independent media organizations have been the targets of extremist violence in the recent past. In this context, Star’s false claims are especially despicable and potentially dangerous,” the embassy said.
“The United States firmly supports freedom of the press and freedom of expression, even the freedom to print fabrications and false claims. But, Star’s readers need to be told that today’s report is made up of nothing more than lies and dark insinuations, and that the United States remains as ever a committed ally to Turkey and a friend to the Turkish people,” the embassy concluded.
In its report, pro-government Star claimed that representatives from the Benenson Strategy Group, working for U.S. President Barack Obama since 2008, and from Turkish daily newspapers Hürriyet, Zaman, Radikal, Bugün, Cumhuriyet and Sözcü – all of whom have been targeted by the government from time to time – attended a meeting at the U.S. Consulate held in March.
Star also referred to recent remarks by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who on Oct. 28 suggested that a company that once managed Obama’s presidential election campaign has now been hired by the HDP to run its campaign for the Nov. 1 snap elections, saying his remarks actually revealed “important information regarding the HDP.”
In a bid to justify the appointment of a board of trustees to manage the Koza-İpek Group, which has seen 23 of its companies seized by a local court as part of a crackdown on followers of the government’s ally-turned-nemesis Fethullah Gülen, columnist Cem Küçük said those who fiercely reacted against the affair involving the Koza-İpek Group didn’t say a word against the British state’s decision at the time. Küçük’s column on Oct. 30 came as the group’s dailies, Bugün and Millet, were taken over, with their printing halted in the late hours of Oct. 28 and riot police storming their sister TV stations and forcing them off air.
“I note that Cem Küçük in today’s Star repeats the canard that ‘the U.K. authorities closed down ‘The News of the World,’” British Ambassador to Turkey Richard Moore said in a message posted on his Twitter account on Oct. 30.
“This is completely untrue. News International took their own decision to close down the newspaper,” Moore said.